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I'm Thankful for Guardrails

Joined: 11/3/2010
Posts: 206
He was twenty years old, on his way to the college campus, and he wove like a NASCAR driver through the construction zone, two narrow lanes with nothing but a string of orange cones in between. He hit the SUV head-on. Months later, he was still comatose.

She was over sixty, and her two elementary-aged grandchildren played in the backseat as she drove home. The truck came out of nowhere, swerving across the center line, and in an instant she was dead.

They sat on opposite sides of the age spectrum, but in the end it didn’t matter.

Guardrails lope alongside miles of highway from L.A. to New York, rarely noticed. We either take them for granted or resent their existence, especially when they prevent us from doing a U-turn that will lop off ten minutes on the commute. Sometimes guardrails are a bother. Sometimes they’re in the way. But sometimes they save our lives.

When we’ve lost control of the wheel, oftentimes guardrails are the only things that stand between us and a sheer drop. They keep us from flying off the road at ninety miles an hour or plunging into oncoming traffic. So despite their occasional inconvenience, guardrails keep us – and the people around us – safe.

Even when we step out from behind the wheel, however, there are still guardrails.

Teenagers hover in that uncertain realm between childhood and adulthood, struggling to assert our independence and yet still wholly dependent on our parents. We’ve grown our wings but we haven’t yet flown. Admit it, every once in a while if we’re not high on drugs then we’re high on our own raging hormones and vacillating emotions. We swerve like drunk drivers on a backwoods road at night. As a result, our parents create rules, guidelines, guardrails, if you will, to keep us on the right path as we navigate the treacherous, potholed road through high school.

Oftentimes we wonder if these rules are even created for our own good. It’s easy to question why I must get home at ten and not two on a Friday night, why I must watch my younger siblings, why I get grounded if I don’t keep my grades up, why I must keep this contest entry under five hundred words. :) When there’s no traffic, why can’t I make a simple U-turn? What’s the matter with breaking the rules once or twice?

Inconvenient or not, time and again the “guardrails” set up in our lives keep us from crashing head-on. We just rarely notice them until they’ve kept us from diving off the road. Even after we finally spread our wings and dive-bomb out of the family nest, there are still guardrails: they’re called laws. :)

So although I may gripe and complain about obeying the hundred and one rules laid out by dear old Mom and Pops, this Thanksgiving I’m sending up a special prayer of thanks for guardrails, both on the road and off it.
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